Legislative Update: A Focus on Families

Friends,

The start of the new school year brings with it a range of emotions, including hope that this school will be better than the last, anxiety about staying healthy and safe, and excitement about what’s to come.

There is no doubt that the previous school year was difficult and traumatic for many. The pandemic will have a lasting impact on families across Michigan and navigating a “new normal” is never easy.

Over the past year, I’ve been working hard in Lansing to address the challenges facing our students and working families, while fighting to ensure all residents have adequate COVID relief and recovery resources. I have, and will continue, to proudly advocate for equitable, high-quality education, attainable housing, and affordable childcare for all families. To that end, I’ve included some resources in this newsletter that I hope you will find helpful as we head into the fall.

It has been a tumultuous journey, but together, we are growing stronger as a community and a state every day. As Michiganders, we’ve come together in so many ways to support each other, and that gives me hope. Please continue to look out for one another in the days and weeks ahead.

If you have any concerns or questions about resources for you and your family, please reach out to my office. You can email me at SenWBrinks@senate.michigan.gov or call me at (517) 373-1801 or toll-free at (855) 347-8029.

Warm Regards,

Winnie Brinks
State Senator
29th District

Website: SenatorBrinks.com
Email:
SenWBrinks@senate.michigan.gov
Phone: (517) 373-1801 | Toll-free: (855) 347-8029
Click the link to review the PDF version


Contact me!

Website: SenatorBrinks.com
Email:
SenWBrinks@senate.michigan.gov
Phone: (517) 373-1801 | Toll-free: (855) 347-8029


Family Resources

Healthy Michigan Michigan.gov/HealthyMichigan

Did you know that healthy eating can help pave the way to academic success? Start the summer off right by planning fun, nutritious meals and snacks full of calcium, iron, and vitamin C. You can find calcium in milk, yogurt, and leafy green vegetables. Dried fruits, chicken, and beans are great sources of iron, and oranges, broccoli, and strawberries are chock full of vitamin C.

Parent Coalition (616) 632-1007

Parent Coalition is a network of parents who support each other and families in Kent County. You can meet other area parents, provide input about community childhood services and how they are delivered, and help share information about resources with other parents who might benefit from knowing about them.

Women, Infants and Children (WIC)

Kent County Health Department (616) 632-7200

Administered by the Michigan Department of Health & Human Services,
Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) is a health and nutrition program that serves low- and moderate-income pregnant, breastfeeding, and postpartum women, infants, and children up to age 5 who are found to be at nutritional risk.


Helpful Hotlines

HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES
MI Department of Health & Human Services


Adult Home Help/Chore Services………………………………………….. (800) 979-4662
Bridge Card (EBT) – Customer Service ………………………………….. (888) 678-8914
Centralized Intake – 24-hour Hotline
for abuse/neglect complaints …………………………………………… (855) 444-3911
Home Help Provider Support Services ………………………………….. (800) 979-4662
MIChild ……………………………………………………………………………. (888) 988-6300
MIHealth Card……………………………………………………………………(888) 367-6557
Protection & Advocacy Services – Disability Ombudsman…………. (800) 288-5923
Rehabilitation Services ………………………………………………………. (800) 605-6722
Women, Infants & Children (WIC) …………………………………………. (800) 225-5942

HEALTH INSURANCE

Attorney General – Health Care Fraud Division
24-hour Hotline ……………………………………………………………… (800) 242-2873
Medicaid Provider Help ………………………………………………………. (800) 292-2550
Medicare (including Part D) …………………………………………………. (800) 633-4227
MI Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs
for health facility complaints……………………………………………..(800) 882-6006
MI Enrolls – Medicaid Managed Care and MI Rx
Drug Discount Program …………………………………………………… (888) 367-6557
MI Medicaid Customer Help Beneficiary Hotline ……………………….(800) 642-3195

TAXES AND TRANSPORTATION

MI Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs
Public Service Commission………………………………………………. (800) 292-9555
MI Department of Treasury – State Income Tax Hotline…………….. (517) 636-4486
MI Driver Responsibility Program
Michigan Accounts Receivable Collection System ………………… (800) 950-6227

OTHER RESOURCES

Michigan United Way Help Line …………………………………………………………..2-1-1
The Heat & Warmth Fund (THAW)…………………………………………. (800) 866-8429

National Resources

Social Security Administration……………………………………………… (800) 772-1213
National Domestic Violence – 24-hour Confidential Hotline ……… (800) 799-7233
Administration on Aging – Eldercare Locator ………………………….. (800) 677-1116


Funding for Education

Teacher And Pupils Using Wooden Shapes In Montessori School

This summer, the Michigan Legislature passed $4.38 billion in coronavirus relief funding for K-12 schools in Michigan.

The legislation appropriates the entirety of the federal stimulus money provided to Michigan’s School Aid Fund from President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan. Most of the money in the bill — $3.35 billion — is from the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief III, with another $840.7 million in funds that have not yet been appropriated, but that are also included for distribution to school districts.

Other important funding priorities include:

• $92 million from Emergency Assistance to Nonpublic Schools funding, and

• $86.8 million from the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief funding for nonpublic schools.

Provisions were also made related to summer school and before- and after-school programs to allow students the best opportunity to succeed regardless of circumstance. School districts could also use local assessments
to make determinations of children with the greatest needs along with benchmark data for summer programming.

This federal relief funding, combined with more-than-expected state revenues, should set Michigan up to finally fund K-12 education in the way it was always intended: With the students’ best interests in mind.

I’m dedicated to continuing the work necessary to make some of these changes — such as accessible, affordable childcare and funding for job training programs — permanent. Our state is at its best when everyone has a foundation that supports their success, especially after the difficulties people endured during the pandemic.

As always, I’m working hard on behalf of our teachers, administrators, parents, and children to ensure our students have nutritious meals, supportive services to help them thrive, and quality educators who once more are excited to be in well-funded classrooms.

State School Aid Fund Budget Update

In June, the Michigan Senate made history by passing the largest investment in our K-12 schools in Michigan history, closing the gap between the lowest- and highest-funded school districts for the first time since the funding formula was overhauled in 1994. We also significantly expanded preschool opportunities for eligible 4-year-old children through the Great Start Readiness Program.

Education was the issue that first motivated me to become politically active, and for more than two decades, I’ve fought for increased dollars and equity in our K-12 budgets. While there is still plenty of work left to do to ensure our children receive a world-class education, this is an outstanding step toward reducing disparities in our communities.


Getting the Right Start

Countless studies show that children who attend high-quality, center-based childcare, pre-kindergarten, or preschool programs tend to have better pre-academic and language skills. They also perform better in math and reading in the early grades of elementary school and have improved outcomes among children in families with low education or incomes.

Early On® Kent County

Early On® Kent County is a program available to any Kent County family with a child who is a newborn or as old as age 3 who has a developmental delay or an established medical condition. For free information and resources about your child’s development, call (616) 365-2310 or toll-free at (866) 456-2084.

Great Start

Michigan’s Great Start Readiness Preschool Program (GSRP) provides state-funded preschool at no cost to the students’ families. The GSRP program currently provides preschool to Michigan’s 4-year-olds with factors that may place them at risk of educational failure.

To find out more about GSRP in Kent County:

Phone: (844) 456-KIDS (844-456-5437) Email: kcpi@kentisd.org
Website: kentisd.org

You can also visit kentisd.org for information about additional resources available and to learn more about free programs and events for children in our area.

Help Me Grow Kent

Help Me Grow Kent exists to help parents and guardians connect with early childhood services offered in Kent County, including connections to resources, developmental screenings, answers to questions, early childhood programming, and parenting support. Call (844) 456-5437 or (616) 742-8903 to learn more.


Diverse group of babies playing.

Childcare Options

If your child is too young for free preschool programs or your family is not eligible, you can learn more about childcare centers and home-based early childhood programs in your area by contacting the folks at Great Start to Quality. They help families find and choose quality childcare programs that meet their children’s needs. The Kent Resource Center serves families in the tri-county area.

For more information:
Website:
greatstarttoquality.org Toll-free: (877) 614-7328
Email:
kentresourcecenter@kentisd.org

Childcare Assistance

Finding and paying for childcare can be tough, especially at the start of the school year. If you need assistance affording it, the Child Care Fund in your community may be able to help. Call Michigan’s Child Care Fund Unit Manager at (517) 335-3919 to determine your eligibility.

Plan and Save for the Future

College is already expensive, with increased costs expected to continue. Fortunately, the Michigan Education Savings Program (MESP) can help you plan

for you and your child’s future educational needs. The program is available to anyone — parents, grandparents, family, and friends — and even students themselves! Call (877) 861-6377 or visit MISaves.com to learn more.


More news:

Senate District 29 Update Michigan Progressive Women’s Caucus Introduces Reproductive Health Package Sens. McMorrow, Brinks Applaud Movement on Tampon Tax Repeal

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